- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Lancaster, Pa., suffered a legal setback earlier this month when the state Commonwealth Court ruled abortions are not allowed there.

A three-judge panel ruled unanimously Dec. 1 that the city of Lancaster was correct in prohibiting abortions at the clinic's 31 S. Lime St. location.

In fact, the judges said, Planned Parenthood had not obtained permits for other medical practices including Norplant insertions, colposcopies, cryotherapy, endrometrial biopsies it was already performing at the clinic.

The clinic is located in a residential area. The city zoning board originally gave permission for abortions at the clinic, but that decision was reversed 10 months ago by a county judge on the grounds that surgery was not a permitted practice in that area.

Clinic spokesmen have not said what steps they will take, if any, to appeal the ruling. The next highest court is the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court, which usually does not take zoning and land-use cases.

"We tried to use all avenues possible to stop this," said Jim Huber, vice president of Lancaster United for Life. "While reviewing the zoning laws, we discovered it was not zoned for this use. This is exhilarating news. It's a nice Christmas present."

It was LUFL activists who persuaded neighbors of the clinic to appeal the city zoning board's ruling to the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas, a county court.

The clinic has encountered unusual opposition ever since it announced two years ago it would start doing abortions. All five hospitals in the county have refused to sign transfer agreements with the clinic. Such agreements obligate the hospital to care for any woman whose abortion goes awry.

State law obligates the clinic to locate such a hospital within a 30-minute drive. The closest hospital that will work with the clinic is in York, Pa., a 46-minute drive to the west.

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